On Saturday, David Crews, executive chef of Six Shooter Land and Timber in Drew, took first place at the 10th annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans.
His Southern Nicoise Salad featuring tuna and lump crabmeat convinced a panel of discriminating judges to crown him this year’s King of American Seafood.
The event, sponsored by the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration and presented by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion & Marketing Board, has long tested the skills of America’s top seafood chefs.
This year’s chefs were asked to create unique dishes with domestic seafood and utilize fish that’s native to their home states whenever possible.
“It’s clear that 2013’s Cook-Off was one of the most exciting we’ve ever conducted,” said Ewell Smith, executive producer and founder of the Great American Seafood Cook-Off. “Chef David Crews prepared an extraordinary dish, and we’re proud to add his name to our list of winners, all of whom champion the cause of cooking with domestic and sustainable seafood.”
The 2012 King of American Seafood, Chef Gregory Gourdet of Portland, Ore., presented the champion’s crown to Chef David during the official awards presentation.
The event took place at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans alongside the Louisiana Restaurant Association’s Food Service Expo, which is celebrating its 60th year.
Judges of the 2013 competition were: Izabela Wojcik, director of programming for the James Beard Foundation; Scott Hocker, editor-in-chief of Tasting Table; Joshua Lawler, executive chef at The Farm & Fisherman in Philadelphia; Katie Ayoub, managing editor of Flavor & The Menu; Derrick Davenport, CECP Enlisted Aide to the Chairman of the U.S. Military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Eric Gabrynowicz, executive chef of Restaurant North in Armonk, NY.
Earlier this year, organizers of The Great American Seafood Cook-Off encouraged states to hold a qualifying round or appoint a chef to compete in the event.
This year’s competition featured chefs from the following states: Alabama, Alaska, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Texas.
Crews competed in early June at the Great Mississippi Seafood Cook-Off in Biloxi to win the honor in New Orleans.
It was the third time he had entered the competition.
After losing his first two years at the Great Mississippi Cook-Off, Crews decided to return to his roots and cook something simple that would still express himself.
Crews ’ creation was a vegetable gumbo base in which he then folded lump crabmeat.
“I think that’s why I did so good this year, was because of the fact that I just went back to my roots — what I like to cook. It makes it fun,” said Crews in June.
Crews started in the culinary world at The Airport Grocery in Cleveland and then moving on to KC’s Restaurant in Cleveland before enrolling in the Culinary Arts Institute at MUW, where he graduated at the top of my class.
Upon Graduation he went to work for the Viking Range Corporation as a Product Test Chef and within a year was promoted to Director of Food and Beverage at Viking’s new Hotel, The Alluvian.
In 2003, he started Crews Culinary Investments, a private dining and consulting business, followed by a stint at Crawdads in Merigold.
In 2008 he accepted a position as Chef Instructor at Mississippi Delta Community College in their newly formed Culinary Arts Technology Program.
He and his wife Maribeth have two children John Pittman, 6, and Mary Courtland, 2.